If It’s Difficult to Pronounce, It’s More Risky
Very interesting, although slightly predictable, report from the University of Michigan. Things that are difficult to pronounce are deemed more risky. This happens from food additives to foreign countries to individual people.
Low processing fluency fosters the impression that a stimulus is unfamiliar, which in turn results in perceptions of higher risk, independent of whether the risk is desirable or undesirable. In Studies 1 and 2, ostensible food additives were rated as more harmful when their names were difficult to pronounce than when their names were easy to pronounce; mediation analyses indicated that this effect was mediated by the perceived novelty of the substance. In Study 3, amusement-park rides were rated as more likely to make one sick (an undesirable risk) and also as more exciting and adventurous (a desirable risk) when their names were difficult to pronounce than when their names were easy to pronounce.
Full report available from the US NCBI Medical Library.
Hat tip to Bruce.